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Dublin: 6 °C Wednesday 1 April, 2020

The government has handpicked these 'water experts' to tell us what to do with Irish Water

Charges are suspended until the process has been completed.

Image: Sam Boal/

AN EXPERT COMMISSION has been established to examine how Ireland should fund its domestic public water services.

The eight-person group will be chaired by former senator Joe O’Toole. They will be expected to report their recommendations to a special Oireachtas committee by the end of November.

Experts from across the globe have been called upon to give their insights into how the government should fix the Irish Water debacle.

They include the OECD’s environmental director Dr Xavier Leflaive and former Scottish minister Peter Peacock who currently chairs the Customer Forum for Water Scotland (where the average household pays about £339 per year for water).

Also on the new committee are Bill Emery, the chair of the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator; Brendan O’Mahony, the chair of the National Federation of Group Water Schemes; Sarah Hendry, an academic lawyer from the University of Dundee who specialises in water and environmental law; Dr Andrew Kelly, an environmental economist and founder of EnvEcon; and Gritta Nottelman, a strategy consultant for Waternet, the only water company in the Netherlands that is dedicated to the entire water cycle.

Minister Simon Coveney says he chose these people because they have the necessary professional experience to address the “complex issue” that is water charges in Ireland.

Once they report in November, that special committee will then have three months to decide what is the best course of action. Its recommendations will go to the entire Oireachtas by the end of February.

A vote on those final recommendations will be held by the end of March next year.

The commission, set up today, will be taking submissions from all interested parties, the government confirmed this afternoon.

It will consider the role of the regulator, Ireland’s environment obligations under domestic and international standards and the need to encourage water conservation.

The Commission is also tasked with assessing the maintenance and investment needs of the public water and waste water system and examining proposals on how the national utility in State ownership would be able to borrow to invest in water infrastructure.

Water charges have been suspended while this process is underway.

More: European Commission confirms its view that we are no longer exempt from water charges

Read: The state of Irish Water: 8,000 cancelled direct debits and 21% drop in revenue

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